Stinky athletic shoes, what to do about it

We’ve all experienced it: you take off your athletic shoes after an intense workout and an anything but pleasant odor meets you.

Or how about that time you frantically kept your shoes on after a long day so as not to offend friends or family with smelly feet? Isn’t it frustrating? Stinky athletic shoes can really be a killjoy.


But before we dive into the details, let’s look at how stinky athletic shoes happen, what the symptoms are, the cause and, more importantly, what you can do about it.

How do smelly athletic shoes occur?

smelly sports shoes

Stinky athletic shoes are a result of dirt, sweat and bacteria accumulating in your shoe. When conditions are right – hot, humid and dark – these things make for a smelly shoe. Wearing the same shoes without proper ventilation or cleaning can result in this unfashionable problem.

You notice this with smelly athletic shoes?

  • A strong, unpleasant smell as soon as you take off your athletic shoes.
  • Visible sweat stains on the inside or outside of your shoe.
  • Growth of bacteria or mold in your shoes.
  • Uncomfortable or potentially harmful to your feet by creating an environment for foot problems such as footworm and athlete’s foot.

What is the cause of smelly athletic shoes?

smelly sports shoes

Sweat, bacteria and poor ventilation create the ideal mix for foul odors in your athletic shoes. Below is a brief overview of some of the factors that cause your shoes to smell:

  • Excessive sweating: This is the main culprit. When we exercise, our feet sweat. This sweat remains in the shoes, making it the perfect environment for bacterial growth.
  • Fungi and bacteria: Certain microorganisms thrive in warm, humid environments – exactly like in a sweaty athletic shoe.
  • Poor ventilation: Many athletic shoes are designed to be as light as possible, which means they often lack adequate ventilation.

What to do about smelly athletic shoes?

Fortunately, you don’t have to make a huge effort to get rid of that foul smell. There are plenty of solutions, from home garden remedies to professional products for smelly athletic shoes. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Dry your shoes well: This helps remove excess moisture and thus also reduces bacterial growth. Do this at room temperature. Do not put them in front of or on the stove as this will dry out shoes completely and can damage them
  • Keeping clean: Clean your shoes regularly with water and a mild soap to remove dirt and bacteria.
  • Use shoe powder: Products such as PediFris Classic® are specially designed to fight bacteria and fungi that cause odor.
  • Use a shoe deodorant: Products such as PediSpray® are perfect for reducing excessive sweating.

Stinky athletic shoes can be a source of discomfort and embarrassment, but the problem is not unsolvable. Whether you reach for natural remedies or seek professional help, there are plenty of ways to get rid of the smell and have fresh shoes again.


Why do my sneakers stink so bad?


The main reason is sweat. When you exercise, your feet sweat, and this sweat remains in your shoes. Without proper care and ventilation, this sweat is going to stink.


Can I wash my athletic shoes to get rid of the smell?


Yes and no. Although washing your athletic shoes can help reduce odor, it can also damage your shoes, especially if they are leather shoes. Therefore, we recommend caution with this approach.


What is the best product to use against smelly athletic shoes?


It depends on the severity of the smell and your personal preference. However, products such as PediFris Classic® and PediSpray® are specifically designed to deal with such problems.